by Dave Moore, Staff Writer
It’s the little things – the willingness to have a beer with a mentor, internships, a follow-up phone-call or even having a work-product to show off a job candidate’s skills – that Dallas area employers say they’re missing when they fill jobs locally. Of course, the newer things – experience in project management, the ability to use industry-related data and an understanding of the workings of their industries – that hiring managers desire as well.
Those were points of consensus from a broad swath of industry leaders in professional services – from the logistics, construction, consulting and real estate sectors – who attended the Dallas Regional Chamber Industry Convening Dec. 6.
“The construction market has had a huge uptick, especially in the nation’s fourth-largest economy, which is DFW,” said Thomas Crowther, Managing Partner of The Crowther Group, whose clients include Toyota, Wal-Mart and Target. “In fourth quarter of 2016, there was over $11 billion worth of construction services happening in this market,” he said.
Yet that increase in activity has coincided with a large number of baby boomer retirements, leaving the industry in need of individuals who can perform at that level. Crowther said his firm is working with high schools and lower-level schools to establish a replacement workforce.
A key element in making the transition will be workers’ willingness to communicate with each other, he said.
“It would help us for those two types of personalities (retiring baby boomers and millennials) to co-exist better, if there were more social skills,” he said. “It’s almost as if you’re working with your grandfather, or your dad. And so, sometimes, being involved with that organization on campus, or going to have a beer, is the conversation you’re going to have with tenured skillsman to learn the craft.”
Nearly all companies need workers with project-management skills, said Ty Beasley, Office Managing Partner at RSM US’s Dallas office – an audit, tax and consulting service that service mid-market clients.
“Project-management training… is industry agnostic,” said Beasley. “It is skillset agnostic. There is a project involved in everything. There’s a process between a start and a finish. Project management skills are becoming more critical in today’s environment.”
Beasley said that when a firm hires RSM, they’re seeking expertise or skills that aren’t available in-house.
KPMG’s Taylor McKamy, JLL’s Sarah Boehland and EY’s Anneliese Schumacher said their operations are in immediate need of individuals who are familiar with the tools of their trade. In JLL’s case, it’s ARGUS real estate software; in the case of KPMG, students should take courses in management information systems, which would help them understand databases, the use of big data and data analytics. EY is looking for dual majors – in both accounting, and in information systems/computer science/artificial intelligence.
“The other area that hasn’t been mentioned (in the discussion) is the need for underrepresented minority talent,” said Schumacher. “And really working with high schools, grammar schools, to increase the pool of underrepresented minorities, and students studying accounting and technology. That’s a big issue.”
The ability to adapt to changes in technology and the increased availability of data is important to Texas Central, Texas’ bullet train.
Arbuckle said in his former job at AT&T, his role evolved from analog technology, to the digital space over 30 years’ time; the learning curves of today’s workers must be much quicker, he said.
Though they cited needs for industry-specific skills and knowledge repeatedly, panelists said incoming hires still lack knowledge on the basics of creating subject and signature lines for emails, basic writing skills, and the ability to interact with people face-to-face. Employers at the panel also especially valued job candidates who were motivated enough to teach themselves skills, and who followed through after their initial contacts.
Panelists Mark Edgar of Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Jarlin Jia of Co.media agreed that job candidates should get as much experience in speaking and communicating as they can, through organizations such as via Toastmasters International.
“Working in a communications firm, we see that a lot of people have degrees in communications, who are still missing the mark in communications,” said Jason Meyer, of Cooksey Communications. “But we’re having to adjust the way we communicate internally, because there is less face-to-face communication, and there is more email. You can’t get tone.”
Meyer’s work at Cooksey has included representing the 23,000-square-acre mixed-use AllianceTexas development, which employs nearly 50,000 people in fields from logistics to financial services.
“From day one, the only thing that’s been holding back projects like AllianceTexas, and our region, is workforce development issues,” he said. Meyer said the development has collaborated with Workforce Solutions to create the Alliance Opportunity Center to help fill those jobs with professionals with matching skills.
“One of the key things I’ve been working on from a public relations standpoint is, ‘How do we get the word out? How do we make sure people know these jobs are available?’”
The DRC industry convening, which was sponsored by Bank of America, is part of its strategic mission to help educational institutions in the region to better prepare students to be workforce ready for the North Texas economy. It represented the fourth and final meeting of the 2017 series.
The panel held a roundtable discussion in front of an audience of representatives from North Texas learning institutions, including Dallas, Grand Prairie and Richardson ISDs, the University of Phoenix, UNT-Dallas, Southern Methodist University, Dallas Baptist University, the University of Dallas, Boy Scouts of America, Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas, the Oak Cliff Family YMCA, and Dallas Community College District.
Long-Range Plan Steering Committee Named
(Release courtesy of Texas State Board of Education)
AUSTIN – The State Board of Education has created an 18-member steering committee to help it develop a new Long-Range Plan for Public Education.
The committee will work throughout the 2017-2018 school year to draft recommendations that will be sent to the State Board, which will ultimately approve the final plan.
The steering committee is made up of five board members who are:
At the request of the board, the heads of three agencies appointed one staff member each to serve on the committee. Those appointees are:
Rounding out the committee are 10 stakeholder representatives. More than 600 Texans volunteered to serve on the committee when the board solicited nominations this summer.
“We are overwhelmed by the volume and quality of applications we received from Texans who offered to serve on the Long-Range Plan for Public Education Steering Committee. The 10 stakeholders selected will bring a wide breadth of the experience to the table,” Bahorich said.
“We hope to involve those who were not selected in other ways in the process, such as inviting them to community meetings that will be held around the state over the coming year,” she said.
The 10 individuals selected to represent stakeholder groups on the committee are:
The first meeting of the steering committee is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 12 in the board room, room 1-104, of the William B. Travis State Office Building, located at 1701 N. Congress Ave. in Austin.
The Texas Education Agency, The Texas Comprehensive Center (TXCC) at American Institutes for Research (AIR), and the Meadows Foundation are providing in-kind or financial assistance for this phase of the project.
By John Olajide
No one succeeds on their own.
That’s why when I was given the opportunity to be “Principal for a Day” at Kennedy-Curry Middle School more than three years ago, I took it without hesitation.
By the end of that demanding day, after learning what it takes to run a school in Southern Dallas with an enrollment of about 800 students, I came away with a profound respect for the tremendous responsibilities shouldered by principals every day.
I was so inspired that I agreed to literally open the doors of Axxess to these students, so they could get a firsthand look at what can be possible in their futures – and our doors have remained open.
Every year, we invite dozens of the school’s students into our North Dallas office, where they can get hands-on experience in various fields and test their skills as engineers, app developers, healthcare professionals, graphic designers, human resource professionals and more. Our team members talk with students about what courses they took, their career journey and what they did to eventually earn a place at Axxess.
Our company is an especially good place for students to visit because they are exposed to professionals in healthcare, computing, human resources, law, engineering, marketing, public relations, finance and more. This is so much better than the traditional career day, where adults just tell students about where they work – the students get to experience the work it firsthand.
More importantly, students get to see how our employees work and play as a team. They see who we are – a diverse group of people just like them, who get excited about doing great things. Visiting our office gives students something to aspire to beyond the classroom. In fact, more than a few Kennedy-Curry Middle School students have told us that the time they spent at Axxess made them think differently about their schoolwork and that they now take it more seriously.
You might be wondering what Axxess gets out of this. In short, our employees get to be an inspiration to others. We get to spend time with a lot of students who just need a chance, and I have no doubt they will be the future leaders of tomorrow. Playing a role in inspiring them to dream big makes what we do every year seem that much more important.
I encourage all business and community leaders to take part in the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Principal for a Day program.
John Olajide is President and CEO of Axxess, the fastest growing home healthcare technology company, which has partnered with DISD’s Kennedy-Curry Middle School since fall 2014. Enrollment for the DRC’s Principal for a Day program begins Wednesday, August 9. If you are interested in participating, please contact email@example.com.
Treveon Washington, a senior at South Oak Cliff High School, is one of several high school seniors participating in Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program. To learn more about the program, click here.
by Treveon Washington, Mayor’s Intern
Starting my first two weeks in the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program, I thought I would start in an office. But instead, I started off in a camp. This isn’t just any camp: it’s Future Focus!
What is Future Focus? Well, it’s a career-readiness camp that helps young scholars plan for their future after high school and college. During these two weeks, I learned how to never give up, to keep going, to always have faith, and how to work in the big business world.
I met students who attended other schools, grew up in different parts of the state and some of whom weren’t born in the U.S. I also had the opportunity to meet CEOs, CFOs, presidents, and vice presidents of six companies. Among the businesses and organizations I toured were Dallas City Hall, JPMorgan Chase, Methodist Dallas Medical Center, TD Industries, GEICO, and AT&T.
During my tour of Dallas City Hall, I had the chance to meet defense attorneys who work hard to win each case on behalf of the City of Dallas. At Methodist Hospital Dallas, I learned that the health care system has a lot to offer. I had the chance to meet one of the health care system’s surgeons, a pharmacist, a radiologist, and several other health care professionals. Visiting GEICO was amazing. My time at the company’s Dallas corporate office gave me a better understanding about insurance policies and insurance fraud.
The thing that stands out most to me about the leaders I met from each of these organizations is the way that they all encouraged us to be great, to not give up in life, and to always go the extra mile. It’s great to realize that there are people in this world who genuinely care about my success.
Future Focus was an amazing experience for campers. In addition to the company visits, my favorite part of Future Focus was the college fair, which gave me a chance to expand my college choices and get more information about those colleges.
The opportunity to meet new, successful people at a variety of companies was a great experience; I would gladly experience Future Focus again just to relive those moments. Future Focus didn’t just give me something to do for two weeks, it gave me something that I will cherish for life.
by Dave Moore, Staff Writer
Though the Dallas Region’s health care industry’s appetite for workers is voracious, expectations for workers are increasing, from entry-level kitchen workers to administrative staff.
A panel of health care experts assembled by the Dallas Regional Chamber agrees: current and future workers in the health care industry must be renaissance men and women, with feet firmly planted in delivering compassionate patient care, while embracing constant change in technologies, regulations and innovations. A recorded taping of the event by Dallas County Community College District is below.
That was the consensus reached April 20 at the Chamber’s Health Care Industry Convening, which included panelists from a cross section of disciplines within the industry, from non-profit caregiving, to banking, to data analysis.
“I’d say 99.5 percent [of our staff members] are impacted by technology, from physicians and nurses, to administrators down to housekeepers and food and dietary people,” said Felicia Miller, Chief Human Resources Director for Dallas-based Tenet Health, which delivers patient care across 47 states, through about 130,000 employees. Miller said some of the hardest positions for Tenet to fill are facilities engineers, who must manage some buildings that are 50 years or older, while still mastering digital technology at work at its newest facilities.
Panelists agreed that smaller health care providers are still hiring job candidates who have certificates and associate’s degrees, but workers who want to advance professionally, especially in larger institutions, need to obtain four-year degrees and beyond. Workers should also be capable writers, especially when it comes to helping their institutions obtain grants, they added.
Beyond obtaining academic and training credentials, health care workers must master so-called “soft-skills” – the ability to effectively and empathetically interact with other people while serving or working with them. Many panelists said it’s key to develop those skills early in professional careers.
“There are people with good communication skills, but usually, they are… good at talking to people who are like them,” said Kristin Jenkins, Senior Vice President of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council. “This (caring for patients) takes more. This takes being able to connect with people who are not like you and who are not from your background. Because the work that we do includes so many diverse people and populations, that is very important.”
The industry experts also recommended that individuals interested in pursuing careers in health care should get involved in customer service or in some aspect of health care as early as possible.
Jenkins, for example, suggested that younger prospective employees should even wait tables, work retail or serve consumers in some other way, to learn the art of making customers happy.
Freda Wright, Vice President of Managed Care for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, encouraged those interested in health care careers to work in supporting capacities in the industry, such as at the front desk of a hospital office, where they can learn about hospital operations and the nuances of various insurance plans.
Panelist Barry Haley, Senior Treasury Solutions Manager for Health Care and Institutions for Bank of America, said that extended care industry is always looking for help in patient care.
“It’s a good way to dip your toe in the water, to understand the mission side,” Haley said.
Seeing health care operations at the ground level can help employees from all aspects of health care appreciate their end-goal of helping patients, panelists said. And, in inverse, it’s important for staff to understand their organization’s overall business picture as well.
Tenet Health’s Felicia Miller recalled her early experiences in caring for others, with her mother.
“My mother was a psychiatric social worker,” Miller said. “Early on, I had to deliver food [to people] under bridges. And Christmas toys. And give up things I didn’t want to give up, but needed to give up, for charity. I think it teaches the very fundamentals of health care and what health care’s about.”
Along those lines, panelists said the health care industry is especially in need of behavioral and psychiatric specialists.
Taking part in solving problems and innovating are also becoming crucial for health care industry employees, panelists said.
Axxess home health care software company Vice President of Human Resources Melody Lenox said teachers must encourage students to independently resolve problems and to be curious, independent thinkers.
“We want students really looking to… think about new ways to solve a problem,” she said. “That’s a skillset that can be stifled in an education system.”
“Curiosity and asking questions are very important,” she added. “If you have someone who’s curious, they’re going to ask you, ‘Why?’ If they understand why, they can help you sustain the innovation you have or help you solve a problem you might not know you had.”
From a purely technical standpoint, panelist Nicole Chisolm, a program evaluation director for Prism Health North Texas, said health care institutions are in need of two types of coders: software coders and individuals who, in the medical billing process, assign billing codes relating to health care administered to patients.
Software coders are especially helpful because they can help institutions measure their effectiveness, she said.
“Everything is so focused on outcomes and measureable successes, no matter what role you’re in,” Chisolm said. “If you’re in finance, you’re looking at cost efficiencies. If you’re in project management, you’re looking at efficient use of time and resources.”
The Chamber held the convening, sponsored by Bank of America, as part of its mission of working with educators and employers to help create better career options for students and to establish a highly trained workforce for the Dallas Region’s economy.
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